Ylitornio

Ylitornio is a municipality and a town of the same name by Tornio river in western Finnish Lapland. About one third of the municipality is north of the Arctic Circle. The main attractions are salmon fishing, nature, and famous Aavasaksa hill.

Ylitornio is unilingually Finnish and English is widely understood. As elsewhere in the Tornio river valley the local Finnish dialect is highly distinctive. These terrains are in the heart of the river valley and have notably strong local identity culture.

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There has been permanent settlements on this area for at least 1000 years. Mighty river Tornio (Finnish: Tornionjoki, Swedish: Torne älv) or Väylä, The Lane, as locals call it, has brought people together for centuries. The river has acted as a source of food – the wild salmon population is plentiful even today – and as a fairway from village to village. The first road was built no earlier than 1830s! Before the Hamina treaty (1809) separated Finland from Sweden modern day Ylitornio, Pello and Övertorneå formed a single parish. Many families have relatives across the border and Finnish has traditionally been language also in those villages that now belong to Sweden.

During the Lapland War the villages on the Tornio river bank from Pekanpää to Vuopionranta survived the scorced earth policy of the German troops. Now they form one of the nationally significant built cultural environments.

The 242 meters high and very prominent 66.395223.72491 Aavasaksa hill has got interesting position in the history of science. French mathematician and astronomer Pierre de Maupertuis made an expedition to Lapland 1736–1737 to determine the exact shape of the Earth. He used Aavasaksa as one of the measure points. Italian naturalist and explorer Giuseppe Acerbi traveled to Lapland 1798–1799 and climbed to the top of Aavasaksa as well. Finally, German-Russian astronomer Friedrich von Struve initiated measurements for Struve Geodetic Arc in 1831. Aavasaksa was one of the measurement points during this massive project. Today, the remaining Stuve Arc points, including Aavasaksa, form UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Aavasaksa is one of the oldest real tourist destinations in Finland. Even the Emperor Alexander II of Russia intended to visit Aavasaksa in 1876, but those were agitated times and finally the trip had to be cancelled. Today the carefully decorated hunting cabin, Keisarinmaja, acts as a café. The view from Aavasaksa over surrounding river valley is one of the official national landscapes of Finland.

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